ERIC SCHMITT and SCOTT SHANE
Nov 6, 2010
WASHINGTON — Saudi intelligence officials warned the United States in early October that Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen was planning a terrorist attack using one or more aircraft, three weeks before a plot to send parcel bombs on cargo planes was foiled at the last minute, American and European officials said Friday.
The Saudi warning came days after American officials intercepted several packages in mid-September that contained books, papers, CDs and other household items shipped to Chicago from Yemen. The Americans considered the possibility that those parcels might be a test run for a terrorist attack.
Taken together, the Saudi warning and the suspected dry run provide a more detailed picture than American officials had previously described of mounting indications of a possible attack by the same branch of Al Qaeda that tried to blow up a passenger airliner over Detroit last Dec. 25.
American officials cautioned that the Saudi tip in early October, though more specific than other previous warnings, made no mention of an impending attack on the air cargo system.